Monday, January 20, 2014

BREAKING. Lesego Matsepe, Isidingo's Letti and South Africa's first openly HIV+ TV soap star, dies aged 39.

Lesego Motsepe (39), South African television's first openly HIV positive TV soap star who played the character of Letti Matabane in SABC3's Isidingo, died this morning.

According to a statement by Oresego Holdings owned by Lesego Motsepe's family, she was found dead on Monday morning at 11:00 by her brother Moemise Motsepe in her house in Randburg.

Lesego Motsepe came to fame in SABC3's weekday soap Isidingo playing the long-suffering character of Letti from 1993 until 2008 when the character of Letti Matabane was killed off in a car accident and buried.

On Khaya FM on World Aids Day in 2011 she revealed to Bob Mabena that she was HIV positive and had been for the preceding 13 years.

Lesego Motsepe died from natural causes according to a statement from the Motsepe family.

"Today we are heartbroken to share the news that Lesego Motsepe has passed away in her home in Randburg," says the family.

"Since the public announcement that touched many hearts of South Africans, Lesego Motsepe conducted several workshops and talks on the importance of living with hope when affected by HIV/Aids, directly or otherwise," says the Motsepe family.

"She successfully used her public profile to encourage the nation to read more on the disease so as to be informed thereby standing together to fight any stigmatization that continues to bedevil many people."

"While we mourn the loss of a very good woman, we also celebrate her remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves," says the family in the statement.

While Lesego Motsepe was in real-life the first openly HIV positive TV soap star in South Africa, Isidingo is noteworthy for the character of Nandipha Sithole which in the show became the first-ever HIV positive character on South African television and in a South Africa TV soap.

Played by Hlubi Mboya (whose character was HIV positive in Isidingo although she was not in real-life) came during a time in South Africa when the government did little in terms of public health and the availability of anti-retrovirals and had a negative policy towards people living with HIV/Aids who faced discrimination, rejection and a lot of stigma.